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WCC sends pastoral letter to member churches in Fiji as Constitutional crisis deepens
She has expressed appreciation for the endeavours of the churches to seek a peaceful resolution and has assured them of the WCC's support for their efforts "to establish a just and lasting peace through dialogue, cooperation and building of trust and mutual understanding between the concerned parties".
The text of the pastoral letter follows:
"The recent events that began in Fiji with protest marches in the streets and the take-over of the Parliament complex and government officials as hostages by a group of armed men on 19th May have been a matter of deep concern for us. The situation has plunged the country into a deepening political crisis and the President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, has been constrained to declare a state of emergency. There have been several meetings of the Great Council of Chiefs in their effort to resolve the crisis.
The officials of the United Nations and the Commonwealth have visited the country and met the parties to express the concern of the international community at the developments that have taken place. Despite unanimous condemnation of the armed take-over, the stand-off between the President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, and the leader of the armed group continues. This has brought the country to a virtual standstill with much suffering and uncertainty for the people.
The World Council of Churches strongly condemns the armed intervention to subvert the popular will of the people obtained through the democratic process. The Council supports the commitment of the Churches in Fiji to maintain an egalitarian and tolerant society. It calls on the parties concerned to maintain the sanctity of the Constitution and to respect the rule of law in the country. The long and careful consultative process involved in the drafting of the present constitution should not be lightly set aside.
We appreciate the initiatives taken by the member churches of the Council in their endeavors to seek a peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue and prayers. It is through such concrete involvement that the Church is able to provide a living witness. The witness of the Church is strengthened in the process of assisting in the healing of the wounds of discord and conflict.
The World Council of Churches expresses its sympathy for all those who have suffered loss as a result of the breakdown of law and order. Please convey to those aggrieved and affected by these events our sympathy and prayers. We will continue to keep you and the people of Fiji in our prayers and will do whatever is necessary to support the endeavours of the Churches to establish a just and lasting peace through dialogue, cooperation and building of trust and mutual understanding between the concerned parties."
For further information, please contact Feiloakitau Tevi, Regional Relations Secretary for the Pacific.
The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 337, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.